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San Francisco to install ALPR system with 400 cameras to crack down on organized theft rings

The Flock Safety camera system will be installed at 100 intersections to combat organized retail theft, motor vehicle theft, and support other critical public safety needs

By Joanna Putman

SAN FRANCISCO — Following the passage of two ballot measures giving the San Francisco Police Department broader freedom to use police technology, the city has announced it will install 400 ALPRs at intersections, according to a news release.

The Flock Safety camera system is intended to disrupt organized theft rings and crack down on crime more broadly, according to the release. The move to gain public approval for the cameras came after the city received a $17.3 million grant from the State’s Organized Retail Theft Grant Program.

“We are making progress disrupting crimes and sending a message that San Francisco is a safe city for residents, businesses, and visitors,” said Mayor London Breed. “While we are relentless in staffing up our police force, we are also incorporating technology that supports the hard work our officers do every day to take care of our city and arrest those who think they can break the law in San Francisco. These license plate readers can play a critical role in disrupting retail theft, car break-ins, sideshows, and other criminal activity.”

City leaders anticipate that the camera system will be in place and operational within the next three months. The release clarifies that the ALPR system will not be used as red-light cameras to distribute citations and will not be equipped with facial recognition capabilities. Uses of the system include assisting with criminal investigations; locating victims, witnesses, suspects, missing children, adults, and/or elderly individuals; and alerting police of wanted people or vehicles.

“I’m excited to launch a network of Automated License Plate Readers that will help the SFPD continue to protect our City,” said Chief Bill Scott. “Our officers are working hard and making arrests every day, and this technology will give them another tool to fight crime. I want to thank Mayor London Breed for making this program a priority and streamlining the process to ensure we can begin using these cameras immediately.”

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